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The Barbarian Conversion

March 21, 2011

Kevin DeYoung points to The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity by Richard Fletcher as one of his favorite history books and an excellent resource on St. Patrick.  He says:

Patrick, says Fletcher, “was soaked in the Bible.” This was commendable, but not completely unusual. What was new was Patrick’s embrace of the missionary mandate to lead the nations to Christ.

Patrick’s originality was that no one within western Christendom had thought such thoughts as these before, had ever previously been possessed by such convictions. As far as our evidence goes, he was the first person in Christian history to take the scriptural injunctions literally; to grasp that teaching all nations meant teaching even barbarians who lived beyond the border of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. (86)

Sounds like a man deserving of his own holiday. It’s too bad today the forefather of western missions is chiefly celebrated by drinking beer and dreaming of  leprechauns. We don’t know much for certain about Patrick. But what we know of his ambition and ministry should be enough to make all of us a little green with envy.


From → Church History

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